The Three S’s of a Student Athlete – Sports, School, and Self 

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By: Shelby De Jong, Staff Writer

Many students at New Paltz High School participate in extracurricular activities, whether it be to earn scholarships, improve their resume, make new friends, or explore their interests. Out of these extracurriculars, many students gravitate towards sports offered at the high school, for reasons ranging from personal health to aspirations of playing at a D1 school. With these involvements, there is a great amount of balancing, scheduling, and prioritizing to be done by the student athletes of New Paltz. 

“There’s a wide range of commitment for athletes, some kids are like ‘sports is my thing’ and then they will prioritize it over drama, clubs, or school,” says Ms. Kara Seim, Social Studies teacher and Winter Track coach at New Paltz High School. “But some kids have other things that they’re more interested in, so I think that there’s a lot of juggling going on.”

Depending on a student’s intentions, they may prioritize sports over school and their grades may slip due to their dedication to sports, but one of the aspects of being a student athlete is the ability to balance responsibilities.

Beckett Evans, 17, an NPHS junior and athlete, says,

“I feel like I prioritize school. I really care about sports a lot and they’re important to me, but getting good grades I feel like is the most important.” Evans continues on to say, “It kinda takes over my personal health sometimes, because I won’t get a lot of sleep because I’m staying up for school because of sports.” 

Kalle Masseo, 16, outlined the sacrifices she sometimes makes as a high school student as well.

“School comes first for me, but when sports are a greater, more pressing matter then sometimes if I just can’t do work, I can’t do it.”

These sentiments resonate with other students, as well. Even though they may have the motivation and commitment to dedicate themselves to both school and sports, there are moments when athletes may lack the time to accomplish all that is expected of them without making sacrifices. Pushing back assignments in order to get a good night’s sleep, skipping practice to do homework, or staying up late after practice in order to study may result in the sacrifice of something: school, sports, or self. 

In order to have the capacity for both school and sports, most students find that they have to forfeit something.

Teachers and coaches understand the struggles that student athletes face, and many of them are willing to work with kids to help them achieve their goals. Teachers stay after school with students in order to boost a failing grade, which allows students to participate in their desired extracurricular activities. Many coaches will allow students to miss parts of practice for clubs or meetings with teachers, as long as there is proper communication between the student and coach.

“I think coaches sympathize with the juggling that students have to do,” says Seim, stating that, in her experience as a coach, she understands the struggle of priorities for students. She also sympathizes with and adapts to the struggles of her students in her role as a teacher.  Seim continues, “As a teacher, I give homework once a week. I used to give homework every night, but…I have cut back on my homework.” 

As a teacher and coach, Ms. Seim can observe her students from multiple perspectives and her experience allows her to cooperate and empathize with them.  As a result, she has a unique understanding of what her students can handle. She says that the final factor in her choice to cut back on homework, though, came from observing her children in high school and their lives as student athletes.

“I think it’s being a parent that has influenced me most because I think you go home and see like, they’re not going right to bed, they have to stay up for four hours to get their homework done,” Seim says.  “I think it’s seeing that that brings it home, because in school or after practice I just go home [and] I don’t see the kids go home and have to do all that, but as a parent you do see that and it gives you another perspective.”